How to continue keeping your cool when things do not go as planned.
The previous blog article, A Wrench in the Works – Part I, discussed how quite often there is a great amount of discourse amongst educators and other stake-holders in the study of education that explores the best methods in lesson and course preparation, teaching aid and resource acquisition, and assessment / evaluation-development. This type of internal discussion is not uncommon amongst professionals in any industry, and the various individual experiences and personal perspectives help to provide the proper context in which to discuss theoretical concepts about best practices and effective pedagogy.
TALK IS CHEAP
But even with context garnered from real-life experiences, like most discourse on methodology, there are a lot of hypothetical theories involved, since not every approach that achieves success in one circumstance will produce similar results in another. So what happens when things go wrong? How does one correct a situation so that the lesson unfolds as it was expected to? The answer is having confidence in your teaching, and to achieve this confidence, you need to have knowledge, preparation, and honesty.
In A Wrench in the Works – Part I, the importance of having thorough knowledge of the subject matter that you are teaching in order to have the confidence to be calm when dealing with problems was highlighted. It was noted that as subject matter experts, you already have the advantage in mastering this vital aspect to keeping your cool when things go wrong, such as technical difficulties (i.e. Learning System Management issues), audio/visual/digital media problems (teaching aids not working), and any other unexpected scenarios.
Lesson plans and any other resources that you prepare in advance for each of your lessons will act more like “bookmarks” that assist you in keeping track of where you are in a lesson, but will not be a crutch for you. But you will still need to make sure that you have lesson plans and other organizational documents with you as you teach, since the hallmark of any good online teacher is preparation in advance.
PREPARATION FOR ONLINE CLASSES
Furthermore, this preparation is the second element that you will need to help keep your confidence during your lesson if something goes wrong. Although knowledge is already part of your arsenal, preparation is not, but it can be and should be if you make the deliberate choice to do so. After all, even if things do not go according to plan, simply having a plan in place to begin with is half the battle…but you have to go out of your way to ensure that you have prepared in advance. It just does not happen by itself! And lesson plans are only just the beginning of what your planning should involve when preparing for your lessons, since they are simply a script that you will follow during each session of your class. But unlike a Hollywood script-writer, as an edupreneur you have the ability to go beyond simply writing a script.
YOU ARE THE TEACHING / DIRECTOR / ACTOR +
For your online course, you are also the actor, the producer, the director, the stunt-person, the camera operator, the marketing promoter, and everything in between. You may not necessarily be the one operating all the technical or logistical aspects of your course facilitation (since Academy of Mine takes care of this for you), but you are still the one person who is in the best position to plan for each uncertainty that may arise in advance.
Keep flexible and avoid planning your lessons in such a rigid manner that they cannot be altered or rescheduled for the next session if something goes wrong. A good way of doing this is breaking your course curriculum into small portions (Portion-Sized e-Learning), so that lessons adjacent in your schedule can perhaps be swapped for each other, if required. If one of your teaching aids has an audio/visual component to be streamed live during your lesson, be sure to have an alternative learning aid that can be emailed out after your lesson is completed, in the event that there is a problem during your session.
Many instructors often provide an electronic copy of their PowerPoint slide presentations for just such a situation, just as an example. Be proactive in getting to know exactly what is involved in your course’s Learning Management System, and plan for – as unlikely as it may be – the possibility of something going wrong. This way, you will not miss a step or skip a beat in the delivery of your lesson to your students, and your students will not miss out on the great material that you are teaching them!
To read further about how to remain confident when things go wrong, refer to A Wrench in the Works – Part III.